The Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, has paid tribute to the Community Rescue Service based at Portglenone.
At a special event hosted by the Chair in response to a request from Councillor Martin Kearney, eight members of the service, including Area Leaders Norman Worthington and Brian Mooney, heard Councillor Ashton call their work ‘remarkable’.
“What you do is quite remarkable and literally can mean the difference between life and death for those who need your search and rescue skills and expertise.
“There are many people today who owe their lives to the service’s volunteers – who have clocked up a staggering 25,000 volunteer hours in the recent past.
“What you do carries great risk, but with enormous reward and it is a pleasure personally, and on behalf of Mid Ulster District Council, to thank you for all that you do and to wish you well as you continue to provide such a vital service to Northern Ireland”.
Councillor Kearney briefed the audience on the role of the service which was formed ten years ago, fulfilling a mainly ‘lowland role’ from search and rescue, crisis intervention, suicide intervention, both rural and urban, water search, community support and education.
“They are all trained volunteers, male and female, drawn from the neighbouring Council areas of Mid Ulster, Mid and East Antrim and Causeway and Glens, whose motto is ‘helping to keep our Communities safe’. They are available 365 days a year, where ever they are needed and are trained to international standards.
“Although they fulfil a primary role along the 62kms of the River Bann they have been involved in projects from Strabane to Ballycastle, from Belfast to Derry. They played a major role recently in the much publicised River Braid search for the unfortunate child who lost his life after slipping into the river. Their community support role was put to good use recently marshalling an event ‘Run for Mum’ raising vital funds for ‘Target Ovarian Cancer’ here in Mid-Ulster in memory of Mrs. Anne McCallion R.I.P. They intend to establish a unit shortly in Dungannon and will be seeking recruits in due course.
“Providing relevant training, maintaining their modern facilities at Portglenone, maintaining their fleet of vehicles and watercraft requires a mammoth fundraising exercise. A vital team member, Sharon Gibson, won the NI Fundraiser of the Year in the ‘Pride of Britain Awards 2017.’ She raised a staggering £120,000. Credit goes to all our local communities who contribute so generously to this worthy cause.”
To find out more about the work of the Community Rescue Service, visit www.communityrescue.org.